Second World War

In July 1939, Nicks & Co agreed to take half of a cargo of 600 standards of spruce being shipped from Digby and St Johns in Canada, with neighbours Griggs & Co taking the other half. To aid discharge, Nicks & Co asked for their half to be put up one end of the vessel and their neighbour’s half at the other end as the two firms used different lighterage firms on the canal between Sharpness and Gloucester. However, while the steamer Rimfakse was in transit, Britain declared war on Germany, and the government of Norway (where the ship was registered) ordered the ship to dock at Queenstown, Ireland, rather than sail to any country at war. After urgent communications between the various parties, Nicks and Griggs agreed to pay the extra war insurance, and the ship arrived at Sharpness on 15 September (49). With Britain at war, the Ministry of Supply took control of the timber trade, arranging all imports and issuing licences to recognised timber merchants to sell from the national stock. Nicks & Co then took on the role of wharfingers, receiving and storing timber and selling toapproved customers. In November 1940, the coaster Ngatia brought a cargo of timber toNicks’s yard from a big ship that had discharged at Milford Haven, and for many years this was thought to be the last coaster to discharge at the yard (but later events proved this fear wrong). In 1941, concern grew that the concentration of timber yards beside the canal at Gloucester was vulnerable to enemy action, and arrangements were made to disperse much of the local stock to sites further down the canal and to other places further inland The controls continued for a few years after the war and were relaxed in stages (50).